Van Aert’s multiple talents allow him to win sprint stages, time trials and uphill finishes like those at Landerneau and the Mur de Bretagne on the first two days, where Classics rivals Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel will also aim for the rare double. of stage success and yellow.Van Aert will switch to a key domestic role later in the Tour to ride for Roglič in the mountains, but stressed the importance of having the freedom to run for himself in the early stages.
“I think it’s clear to everyone that I can look for a stage win or a best possible result on the first weekend,” Van Aert said during the pre-race video press conference in Jumbo-Visma, specifying its protected status despite a poor Internet connection. from the Jumbo-Visma hotel.
“It is also clear that the team is here with a big goal and that is to get the best overall classification possible with Primož. We will never lose this bigger goal. I don’t see any problems there but, on the other hand, I will be free to place myself in the final. “
Van Aert will swap the Jumbo-Visma colors for his black, yellow and red Belgian national champion jersey after winning the road race title on Sunday. He beat Edward Theuns in a close sprint after an aggressive run and breakaway with rider Trek-Segafredo and Remco Evenepoel.
Van Aert’s Tour de France training had been delayed due to appendicitis surgery in May and he initially downplayed his personal hopes for the Tour’s first week. However, winning the national title boosted his confidence and confirmed his ability to sprint.
“When I looked at the numbers last Sunday, it was the best sprint of the season so far,” he revealed.
“It’s always different when there’s a three-way sprint, the speed at which you start the sprint is pretty low, but I’m happy with my performance on Sunday. I was skeptical before but I gained a lot of confidence during the race. I hope that at the international level here on the Tour, I will be strong enough to sprint in the final in the next few days. “
Time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds are awarded to stage finishes and thus victory at Landerneau automatically awards the first yellow jersey of the 2021 Tour.
Success on subsequent stages can do the same or extend any lead, while the stage 5 time trial in Laval could even see Van Aert win even more team and eventually lead the Tour. to the Alps.
“On the first steps, it comes automatically, with good results, and if you are close in GC. I think it’s every rider’s dream to wear the yellow jersey, ”said Van Aert.
“Mike Teunissen explained what it’s like to have the yellow jersey so I’m curious how it will be. I think until the TT I have a few chances to be close so that’s something that concerns me. “
“We have confidence in our leader”
Van Aert and Jumbo-Visma know they are walking a tightrope between the personal goals of the Belgian national champion, some early successes in the Tour de France and the final victory in the general classification, but their strategy seems to have been discussed and decided.
Speaking shortly after Van Aert, Roglič seemed satisfied with the tactical plan, while Van Aert confirmed his loyalty to Roglič’s overall ambitions.
“We have confidence in our leader,” he said when asked about Roglič’s decision not to race in preparation for the Tour de France and to focus instead on training at altitude.
“Primož has shown us several times that he can come out of training in great shape. I think that’s why he decided to change his preparation a bit and not to run. There is always a little question mark because you never know how you respond to the feeling of the race, but it will definitely be completely fresh on the stage and I hope that will be an advantage. at the end of the race. “
Van Aert arrived in Brest on Wednesday after a final training outing in Belgium.
He did his pre-race homework studying the stage routes, but wants to do a stage 1 reconnaissance hike to see if the route through Brittany’s hilly country roads is as difficult as it gets. appears.
“I have only seen the stages online, so far I think we will recognize stage 1 today or tomorrow,” he said.
“From what I can see it’s a tough course all day and there are some hard climbs. It will be an important weekend for the stage winners and for the guys in the general classification. We expect a high pace all day and the survival of the fittest in the final sprints because they are uphill and it’s going to be about timing and having energy. Normally that’s fine with me, but it will definitely be difficult.